Traditions

Christmas Around the World (Part II)

This is Part II of our “Christmas Around the World” post. Check  out Part I here.

Europe

Gouda Town Hall (Panoramio)

Gouda Town Hall (Panoramio)

If you ever go to Holland around Christmas time,  expect it to be filled with candles. This annual  candle night or Kaarsjesavond in Dutch takes place in the city of Gouda  in the central market square in front of the Gothic Town Hall.   The streets are only illumated by candles,  as people gather to sing christmas carols and the mayor gives a Christmas speech. Below check one of the many performances of that night. (Read more at Holland.com)

Candle night in Gouda . Notice the market square is in complete darkness and  candles are the only light source. (from haakaa1964 on Youtube)

All around Europe, children anxiously wait for St. Nicholas  and not Santa on December 6th. In Poland, children leave their boots  by their beds the night December 5th waiting for St Nicholas to fill them with presents the next day.

Very similar to Santa Claus, St Nicholas brings gifts to children all over Europe. (Marine Connector)

Very similar to Santa Claus, St Nicholas brings gifts to children all over Europe. (Maritime Connector)

 In Germany, gingerbread houses are called “Hexenhaus” which translates into witches’ house. Why you may ask? They are named after the popular  german Grimm fairytale Hansel and Gretel candy house.  You can read more about European christmas traditions at Reader’s Digest.

German gingerbread house featuring  The Witch,  Hansel and Gretel (Flickr)

German gingerbread house featuring The Witch, Hansel and Gretel (Flickr)

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The Story behind..., Traditions

Santa who? Story of Santa Clause

1932  illustration of Santa Claus (The Coca Cola Co.)

1932 illustration of Santa Claus (The Coca Cola Co.)

He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake(Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town)

The big fat man in red… Santa Claus. Have you ever wondered where does  Santa come from? Who created Santa?

St. Nicholas, the real Santa (photo credit Origins of Santa Claus/ St. Nicholas)

St. Nicholas, the real Santa (photo credit Origins of Santa Claus/ St. Nicholas)

The character of Santa Clause is based on  St. Nicholas,  a man who lived in  the  east coast of Turkey. His parents died when he was very young. Nicholas was a devoted christian and he decided to devote his life to help the needy and the sick. He was well-known for his generosity, but  was persecuted for his beliefs and also imprisoned. He passed away on December 6th ( Read more about St. Nicholas  here)

The Santa that we all know now, big fat man with white bead and red coat , is in fact a creation of the Coca Cola company. Santa, illustrated by Haddon Sundblom,  debuted in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post. After that, the rest was history. Santa was seen in many advertisements for Coca Cola during Christmas time.  Coca Cola played an important part in creating, shaping and molding the image of Santa Claus.( You can read more here)

Below you can check out one of those classic Coca Cola Christmas commercials!

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Traditions

Christmas around the world (Part I)

Christmas in London, England (photo credit Ireland Network Great Britain)

Christmas in London, England (photo credit Ireland Network Great Britain)

Have you ever wondered how people around the world celebrate the holidays?  It will be difficult to travel to every single country on christmas to see how they celebrate. You can save a few dollars and read below how people celebrate the holidays around the world.

Latin America

Christmas Eve fireworks in Montevideo, Uruguay (taken from Alejandro Perez on Youtube)

In Uruguay, families gather on Christmas Eve( december 24th) to have Christmas dinner.  Dinner consists of a whole grilled pig and different side dishes. Presents are opened at midnight and are usually followed by a sea of fireworks. In Panama, many families attend La misa del Gallo (rooster’s mass)traditionally  at midnight on Christmas Eve. Panamanians also gather in a Posada a few days before December 25th to sing  carols and sometimes re-enact the Christian birth of Jesus.

Traditional Posada in Guarare, Panama. (Image taken from Casa del Puerto)

Traditional Posada in Guarare, Panama. (photo credit  Casa del Puerto)

Africa

Ethiopian depiction of Christmas (photo credit ONE)

Ethiopian depiction of Christmas (photo credit ONE)

In Ethiopia  most people celebrate christmas on January 7th, following the ancient Julian calendar. Christmas usually begins by a day of fasting, followed by religious services and a feast (read more at ONE). In Liberia, there is no such thing as Santa Claus. Instead, you can find Old Man Bayka the “devil” begging on the streets for presents on Christmas Day. You can read more here.

Forget Santa Claus, the Devil is coming to town in Liberia. (photo credit TLC Africa)

Forget Santa Claus, the Devil is coming to town in Liberia. (photo credit TLC Africa)

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